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Title: Individual–Community Misalignment in Partisan Identity Predicts Distancing From Norms During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This study investigated whether misalignment between an individual and their community in partisan identity predicted psychological and behavioral distancing from local COVID-19 norms. A nationally representative sample of Republicans and Democrats provided longitudinal data in April ( N = 3,492) and June 2020 ( N = 2,649). Democrats in Republican communities reported especially heightened better-than-average estimates, perceiving themselves as more adherent to and approving of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI; e.g., mask wearing) than their community. Democrats’ better-than-average estimates reflected high approval and behavior in Republican communities and substantial norm underestimation. Republicans in Democratic communities did not evidence worse-than-average estimates. In longitudinal models, injunctive norms only predicted NPI behavior when individual and community partisan identity were aligned. The strong personal approval-behavior association did not depend on misalignment; there were no effects of descriptive norms. Normative messages may have limited efficacy for a sizable subpopulation in politically polarized contexts, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
SAGE Publications
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Social Psychological and Personality Science
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 539-550
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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